If you ever wish to obtain a true taste of pre-gentrification New York City, look no further than the artistry of acclaimed poet/novelist/rocker Jim Carroll. But while most who know of him are predominantly familiar with his renowned memoir-turned-Leonardo DiCaprio star vehicle The Basketball Diaries, or his indelible 1980 Atco/Rolling Stones Records music debut Catholic Boy, 1991’s Praying Mantis deserves to be recognized with equal aplomb. This equally sobering and entertaining spoken word performance was culled from a live Carroll reading of excerpts from his poetry anthologies, chief among them 1972’s Living at the Movies and 1986’s The Book of Nods, at the old Poetry Center at St. Mark’s Church. And in his classic New York accent, he paints a spirited, visually-encapsulating image of the city neighborhoods he called home through a series of vignettes that puts you right inside the roach-infested haunts he and his friends fraternized in. For those of you who always wanted a taste of the NYC that existed before the developers came in and sanitized the life out of it, Praying Mantis makes for a most essential meta-historical guide.
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